Building DevSecOps When You’re Stuck in Waterfall Development

Zbigniew Banach - Fri, 26 Mar 2021 -

Incorporating security testing into application development can be challenging even for young and agile companies, let alone large public organizations. A recent report has revealed the multitude of difficulties that government entities face on the road to building DevSecOps. Fortunately, Netsparker can help with many of these challenges.

Building DevSecOps When You’re Stuck in Waterfall Development

Software Development in Public Organizations

In a recent survey conducted by the Advanced Technology Academic Research Center (ATARC) in partnership with the U.S. Air Force, federal, state and local government entities were found to use a wide variety of software development methodologies. Only a third employ some kind of agile approach and just under a quarter consider themselves DevOps shops. More importantly, a full 27% still use some sort of waterfall process – a hallmark of regulated and formalized environments where any changes can take a very long time.

The Challenges of Adding Security Testing to Existing Workflows

With cybersecurity high on the agenda for organizations worldwide, security testing is now a vital part of the application development mix. But when you have a complex and inflexible workflow, adding extra tools and processes can mean delays at every stage, starting with getting the new tooling to work. In fact, the ATARC survey revealed that nearly 40% of respondents were already using 10 or more tools in their security-related workflows.

In such environments, making sense of security testing results is a major headache, with surveyed organizations naming false positives and the inability to track vulnerability status as their top frustrations. This comes as no surprise, as false alarms in security testing always lead to unnecessary work and delays – and in rigid waterfall workflows, this problem is only magnified. Getting actionable information out of the results is also a challenge, as respondents struggle to understand and prioritize vulnerabilities and find the right resources for remediation. All this leads to further delays in resolving security issues – and that can impact launch dates.

How Modern DAST Changes the Picture

The idea of DevSecOps is to incorporate security into existing DevOps workflows. In real life, though, organizations differ in the type and maturity of their development models and the ability to add new tools and processes. As the ATARC survey confirms, many don’t use DevOps or agile approaches at all – and yet everyone needs accurate and efficient security testing. For web application security, a modern DAST solution such as Netsparker can be the best and sometimes the only way to add effective security testing to any web development workflow.

There are still many myths and misconceptions about DAST that lead some organizations to treat a vulnerability scanner as a nice-to-have rather than an essential tool. But just as web technologies have advanced in leaps and bounds, modern DAST has also come a long way from the simple scanners of the early 2000s. Unlike tools that rely on source code analysis, dynamic testing can be quickly deployed in any environment, regardless of the underlying languages, technologies, and workflows. Done right, DAST can be versatile and highly accurate, providing a realistic picture of your application security posture.

Actionable Results from Day One with Netsparker

As a leading DAST solution, Netsparker delivers real value from the very start, with initial deployment often a matter of hours rather than weeks. Once deployed, Netsparker uses Proof-Based Scanning™ to accurately detect a wide range of web vulnerabilities and automatically confirm many of them. Each confirmed issue comes with proof that it is real and not a false positive, as well as detailed information about the vulnerability, its impact, and remediation methods. The scanner clearly indicates where each vulnerability was found – often down to the specific line of code if the additional interactive testing component is used.

Getting proven and actionable security testing results without lengthy deployment is already a major win for any application development operation, but you still need to fix the issues, verify the fixes, and get the new code into production. Netsparker streamlines all these steps through integration with popular issue trackers, automatic fix retesting, and efficient vulnerability management features. Proven issues can be automatically assigned to predefined technical contacts for each site or application, eliminating the need to manually find the right people and create tickets for them – another efficiency win.

DevSecOps in the Real World

Behind the buzzwords, DevSecOps means adding security testing to development and operations as efficiently as possible. A modern DAST solution such as Netsparker is an essential part of any web application security toolbox – deployable in a matter of hours, it provides real security benefits regardless of the underlying technologies and processes. It can also be the first step on the road to building a mature application security program.

Flexible deployment and integration options allow organizations to use Netsparker in a way that best suits their existing tools and workflows. Whether you are integrating early-stage security testing into a cutting-edge CI/CD pipeline or adding pre-release testing to a rigid waterfall process, you always get the maximum security benefits possible in your specific situation. All of this means improved security, easier compliance, and fewer launch delays – ensuring the security of public information and critical infrastructure.

Zbigniew Banach

About the Author

Zbigniew Banach

Technical Content Writer at Netsparker. Drawing on his experience as an IT journalist and technical translator, he does his best to bring web security to a wider audience on the Netsparker blog and website.